CHILE AT A GLANCE

WhERE IS Chile?

Chile is one of the two countries in Latin America that do not border Brazil. It occupies a long, narrow coastal strip between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains. It shares borders with Peru in the north, Bolivia in the northeast, Argentina in the east, and the Drake Passage in the south. The total area of the country is 756,950 square miles, and it has an estimated population of 17,224,200.

What is the capital of Chile?

Santiago de Chile is the capital of Chile. It is located in the country’s central valley, Santiago Basin. The legislative bodies are situated in the coastal town of Valparaiso, one hour drive to the west of Santiago. Santiago is an Alpha Minus World city, and has modern infrastructure. Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago on February 12, 1541 and named it Santiago del Nuevo Extremo.

What is the currency of Chile?

The Chilean peso is the currency of Chile.

Which is the largest city of Chile?

Santiago is the largest city of Chile. It was founded by Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia on February 12, 1541. The total area of the metropolitan city is 5,947.2 square miles. It has an estimated population of 4,985,893 and lies in the Santiago Basin.

What is the official language of Chile?

Spanish is the official language of Chile. English is mandatory for students in public schools.

What is the religion of Chile?

Chile allows freedom of religion. Nearly 70% of the inhabitants are Roman Catholic and 15.1% are evangelical. 8% of the population comprise irreligious, atheists, and agnostics.

What is the literacy rate of Chile?

The literacy rate of Chile is 96.5%. Basic Education was established 1965. The government provides free and compulsory education to citizens up to the age of eighteen.

What is the economy of Chile like?

Chile is Latin America’s most prosperous and stable nation. It is the second largest producer of salmon in the world. The economy of the country is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. Chile was the first Latin American country to join OECD (Organization For Economic Co-operation and Development.) The largest trade flows are with China, United States of America, Japan, Brazil and Mexico. It exports copper, fruit, fish products, paper and pulp, chemicals and wine. It imports petroleum and petroleum products, electrical and telecommunications equipment, vehicles and natural gas.

OTHER FACTS ABOUT CHILE

WEATHER

In Melipueco, Chile average high temperature in June is 54. Low will be 39. Expect rain! 

In Santiago, Chile, average high temperature in late June is 57. Low will be 37.

Food

Chile’s mostly temperate climate means the fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy are fairly similar to what you’ll find back home. Expect A LOT of BREAD. 

No, it’s the timings that change. Chileans traditionally have a small breakfast of coffee or tea to drink, some toast, cheese or ham on two types of bread, hallulla (a hockey puck) and batido (a baggete) and occasionally something sweet. This sees them through until lunch, which is typically eaten around 2pm and is the main meal of the day. Served at home or at a restaurant as a set lunch, known as a menú, it includes a small starter, a main course and usually a small dessert.

What about dinner? Most Chileans don’t eat a normal-sized dinner. They eat a light, cold snack anytime from mid- to late-evening, called – onces. When you eat your evening snack in Chile, you tomar once or “take the eleven.” There is no formal agreement on why once is called once. Once was initially a mid-morning snack that over time moved later into the day, just like the British term “elevenses,” still in use today. Some even say that once is a literal translation of elevenses, picked up by locals from the elevenses eaten by 19th century English settlers on the Chilean coast.

A more popular local story, however, says that the term was originally a code word used by miners in the north of Chile when they wanted to sneak off for a shot of aguardiente liquor. At the time there were harsh restrictions on drinking alcohol, so men supposedly suggested a break for once, or eleven, because of the eleven letters in aguardiente.

What’s in an once?

When you sit down for your evening once, any time between 5pm and 9pm, you can expect a variety of simple, cold dishes. At the most simple end of the scale is bread: fresh Chilean bread hallulla and/or batido, broken and served with butter, cheese, ham, manjar (Chile’s version of dulce de leche) or mashed avocado. A salad of chopped tomatoes is often served as well, with tea and coffee to drink. For a more elaborate once, cake and pastries are included, such as German-style küchen.

As important as the food, however, is the company. Once, like “afternoon tea” in England and Australia, is a group endeavor, with family members or friends gathering round the table to talk about the day. Hosts push tea or coffee on guests and will anxiously encourage you to eat and drink more, “¿te sirvo más?”

Once you’re accustomed to the change in rhythm, a large lunch plus a light once, is kinda fun. Not to mention the fact that once leaves some space for an asado (barbecue) later on….

Cultural Do’s and Don’ts

Chile (as is generally true of all of Latin America) is a NIGHT culture, especially true among young adults. Be prepared to have the evening go well into the night. Chileans, by in large, are event oriented as opposed to time oriented. The person with whom you are with, and the moments you are therefore sharing, are what is MOST significant. Time is therefore a general marker, not a fixed point – except when it comes to public transportation.

Safety

Don’t be alone at night. It would be preferable to have a group of 3, one being a male. Don’t be in an isolated place alone with a national or with minors. When traveling on public transportation, stay close to teammates taking care not to get separated from your group. Be on guard. Always be aware of what is going on around you. Look like you know what you’re doing. Be aware of your belongings at all times. Hold your backpack in front of you on public transportation. Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself.

Don’t carry a lot of valuables on you (expensive watches, jewelry, phones, computers, cameras, etc.) Put money in several places on you (in a pocket, in a backpack, in a money belt.) Carry a copy of your passport with you at all times. You don’t need to carry your passport every day, but make sure to put it in a safe place. Use common sense. If you’re not sure what is allowed, ask your team leader(s) or missionaries.

Misc.

Currency: Chilean Peso. 

Time Zone: In June, Chile is 3 hours ahead of PST. 

Electrical Outlets: 220V for Chile. You will need plug adapters for charging devices. 

CLOTHING GUIDELINES

With regard to clothing, MODESTY is of EXTREME importance.  Neither underwear nor midriffs may be shown. And nothing form fitting, guys or gals. No scoop neck/ low necklines for gals. Take your cues from the nationals in the varying situations you find yourself.

Work Clothing: Jeans, “scrubs,” or active wear. Yoga pants are permitted if worn with a long shirt to completely cover the rear. Closed toed, sturdy shoes. T-shirts or basic crew necks. No shorts or sleeveless/tank tops for women. Men may wear shorts. Any writing on shirts should not contain anything offensive, crude, provocative, political or inflammatory.

Casual Clothing: Nicer outfit for outings and excursions, like jeans or capris and a polo shirt or nicer crew neck.

Church/Dining Out: Church: Clean jeans with nice t-shirt or polo shirt and tennis, skate or deck shoes for men. Below knee dress/skirt with t-shirt and flip flops or sandals. Note: we don’t want to “out dress” the locals.